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How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE ‘Today Is a Good Day’ Cut File!

Learn how to paint a canvas tote bag in no time!

It’s a super easy and inexpensive DIY project that can be customized in countless ways!

Plus, snag this FREE cut file to make a “Today Is a Good Day” project of your own!

How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE 'Today is a Good Day' Cut File!

How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE ‘Today Is a Good Day’ Cut File!

Do you ever get inspiration for new projects in the middle of the night?

You know, you’re drifting off to sleep then–BAM!

An idea pops in your head that causes your eyes to fly open and the creative wheels to start a-spinnin’?

Yeah, that’s what happened to me a few nights ago.

I was almost all the way to dreamland when, all of a sudden, I remembered that I had a blank canvas bag shoved on the top shelf of my closet and it just needed–NEEDED–to be jazzed up.

I spent who knows how long tossing and turning, trying to finalize just what this “jazzing up” was going to be, and luckily I hadn’t forgotten everything by the time morning arrived.

I was going to make my very own DIY painted canvas bag with the help of my beloved Silhouette Cameo and some fabric paint!

Here, I’ll show you how easy it is to paint a canvas tote bag, plus you can snag this FREE ‘Today Is a Good Day to Have a Good Day’ cut file to make one of your own!

Painting a Canvas Tote Bag Supplies

Here’s what I used to paint this blank canvas tote bag and breath new (cute) life into it.

If you don’t have a cutting machine or a vinyl design, no worries!

You can find some really cute premade ones at craft stores or online, or even have custom ones made on Etsy.

Freezer paper and stickers might even work great too for stencils too!

Or if you’re feeling extra brave, just freehand a design and get your craft on.

The “Today Is a Good Day to Have a Good Day” Design 

I truly believe in the power of positive thinking, and I’ve always been a fan of this saying:

Today is a good day to have a good day.

I mean, have truer words ever been spoken??

This little phrase sums up quite nicely the conscious effort that I’m making every day to see the good in life…ya know, that whole rose-colored glasses thing?

As cliché as it sounds, every day is a gift and we should try to make the most out of ’em.

We’ve only got so many after all.

There doesn’t need to be anything “special” about a day for it to be a good one.

Life is what you make it, and I’m all about making it a good one.

So in Silhouette Studio, I threw together this little design of my chosen saying.

I didn’t want anything too frilly or intricate, just nice clean lines for a simple graphic print.

I also had the box framing the saying set as a cut line as well, so I’d be using the white pieces as a stencil.

And you can find out where to download the FREE cut file below, so keep reading!

How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE 'Today is a Good Day' Cut File!

Cutting The Design Out in Vinyl

Now that my design was ready, it was time to get cuttin’!

I had some great success using vinyl as a stencil for my oldest’s newborn stats canvas as well as for his first birthday art canvas, so I decided to use some more for this project.

I then loaded up my roll of white vinyl into my Silhouette Cameo.

How to cut vinyl with a Silhouette Cameo.

Silhouette Cameo Vinyl Cut Settings

When cutting vinyl with my Silhouette Cameo, I usually use the default vinyl settings.

Here, however, I bumped the speed down a bit since I had some relatively small letters to cut and I didn’t want any tearing.

A poor vinyl cut makes for a very grumpy crafter.

So, my Silhouette Studio cut settings were:

  • Speed: 4
  • Thickness: 9
  • Blade: 2
  • Unchecked ‘Cutting Mat’ since I was cutting from a roll of vinyl
FREE 'Today Is a Good Day to Have a Good Day' cut file design!

Weeding The Vinyl

Once the vinyl was all cut, it was time to weed!

I usually enjoy the weeding step (is that weird??).

I find it rather therapeutic and get a huge sense of satisfaction at seeing my design in all its glory, just waiting for me to bring it to life.

To help me in removing the excess vinyl, I utilized my cutting mat to keep everything nice and flat (and still) along with my hook tool to remove the tiny little bits.

Cutting out a vinyl stencil with a Silhouette Cameo.

Transferring The Vinyl Design Onto the Canvas Tote Bag

Once my design was weeded, I applied some transfer paper over top with the help of my scraper tool.

Then I grabbed a ruler and positioned my design on the canvas bag.

While doing this, I discovered that the handles on the bag are not exactly centered with the sides.

Hey, what do you expect from a free giveaway on a college campus? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I decided to go ahead and place my design so it would be centered underneath the handle, even if that meant it would be a little off on the actual side panel.

That way it would LOOK centered when in use.

So, once my design was in place, I applied a long piece of painter’s tape across the middle to act as a hinge while I applied one half of the design at a time.

This is a great, easy way to keep the design situated while applying it.

I describe the hinge method in more detail here, so check that out for all the nifty details.

The vinyl sticks quite nicely to the canvas tote bag, so this was going to make a nice stencil indeed.

Using a vinyl stencil to paint a canvas tote bag.

Time to Paint The Canvas Tote Bag!

Now that my vinyl stencil was in place, it was time to paint!

Since I was using such a cheerful saying, I wanted it to be painted in an equally cheery color.

I went searching through my paint collection and found the perfect combination of colors: hot pink with some pink glitter on top!

My application method would be a paint dauber/spouncer, which is basically just a sponge on a stick.

I used a 1 1/4″ size dauber here, but any size would be fine.

How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE 'Today is a Good Day' Cut File!

Painting the Canvas Tote Bag

Before starting the painting fun, I added a frame around my vinyl box with some painter’s tape.

The vinyl box was cut to the exact size I wanted the final design to be, while the painter’s tape would just thicken up its outer edges and add some wiggle room for me during the paint application.

The keys to painting fabric with a dauber are:

  • Don’t use too much paint
  • Apply it in a straight up-and-down motion
  • Go slow

I poured some paint onto a paper plate and then dabbed my dauber directly down (say that ten times fast!) into the paint.

Then I patted off the excess paint on the plate until it wasn’t sopping wet anymore.

No Globs = Good

If you apply too much at a time to the fabric, it can lead to bleeding underneath your stencil and you will also get really thick splotches of paint in areas.

No beuno.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File!

Like I mentioned, using a dauber means applying the paint straight up and down so nothing seeps underneath the vinyl stencil.

It’s not a brush so there’s no stroking or swiping here.

So, I just lightly dabbed my paint-loaded dauber up and down until no more canvas was showing then moved along to another section.

Don’t rush this part either: a few light coats are better than a thick, heavy one.

Slow and steady is the name of the game.

How to paint a canvas tote bag.

Once my design had a nice layer of pink paint, I added another *very light* coat to fill in any small spots of canvas that were still peeking through after drying a bit.

I noticed that turning the bag and even lifting it off the table so I could look at it straight on really helped to find any spots that needed more coverage.

Once I was satisfied with the pinkness, I set the bag aside to fully dry.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File!

Then it was time for the glitter!

I used the same application method to add a layer of pink glitter.

It was more of a clear liquid with pink glitter in it as opposed to being pink paint with pink glitter.

Painting a canvas tote bag.

It just added some nice sparkle and dimension, because what lady doesn’t love a little sparkle from time to time?

Once my whole design was covered in sparkles, I once again let it dry completely.

How to paint a canvas bag.

My Finished DIY Painted Canvas Tote Bag!

A little while later, I checked to make sure the bag was nice and dry, then held my breath as I started removing the painter’s tape and vinyl.

Luckily, there was nothing but crisp, clean lines…jackpot!

I think it turned out so stinkin’ cute.

How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE 'Today is a Good Day' Cut File!

And I just love the subtle sparkle that the glitter provides.

It’s not over-powering, but it adds a little somethin’ somethin’ and fancies the bag up just enough.

And another bonus is that it’s permanent!

Yep, that’s right. No glitter comes off when touched.

DIY Painted Canvas Bag & FREE Cut File!

I knew I had a successful DIY project when The Hubs saw it and stated “Wow, that looks really professional.”

Yep, that made me a happy lady.

Painted bag with 'Today is a good day to have a good day' saying.

This bag is now the perfect companion for running to the store, a family picnic or playdate, or my favorite–hitting up the pool!

How to Paint a Canvas Tote Bag + FREE 'Today is a Good Day' Cut File!

FREE ‘Today Is a Good Day to Have a Good Day’ Cut File!

Want to make your very own “Today Is a Good Day” project?

No problem!

Just click on the ‘DOWNLOAD’ graphic below where you’ll be taken to a Dropbox folder to download the Silhouette Studio cut file.

Enjoy and happy crafting!

Download this FREE printable and/or cut file from Where The Smiles Have Been!

{THE FINE PRINT: This file is for PERSONAL NON-COMMERCIAL USE ONLY. So don’t sell it, sell anything with it, or share the download link directly. Thanks!}

If You Enjoyed This…

Make sure you check out my other fun Silhouette projects, FREE cut files and printables, and other bag ideas, like these!

DIY Farmers' Market Tote Bag: Eat Local! | Where The Smiles Have Been
Fun Skeleton Trick-or-Treat Bag that GLOWS in the DARK! | Where The Smiles Have Been

I just love it when I’m able to breathe new life into a long-forgotten item.

Upcycling is where it’s at!

This bag is now no longer just practical…it’s practical AND cute (and out of the back of my closet!).

Plus, its message is a valuable reminder that today….and everyday….is a good day to have a good day.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Where The Smiles Have Been | Crafts. DIY. Home. Mom Life.

Trena McMaster

Friday 19th of July 2019

Hello - I love your painted canvas bag! I'm doing my own painted design on canvas tote using acrylic paints and was wondering how to protect my artwork on the canvas. Is there a product you can recommend to spray on to 'seal' the canvas artwork without making the bag to stiff? Thanks!


Thursday 3rd of January 2019

Loved reading through this! I've just subscribed so i can keep up with the new posts. Thank you!


Wednesday 4th of April 2018

Hi! Just wondering about the versatility of the fabric paint. I'm looking to merchandise a few totes for our home bakery and loved the idea of hand painting some canvas totes for a more aunthentic and unique product, but I'm wondering if the paint is up for the job. What have you found?


Sunday 3rd of September 2017

Thank you!


Monday 29th of August 2016

Hi...Is there a way of making the paint go further? i seem to use nearly the whole pot for a small project? thanks


Wednesday 13th of September 2017

I don't know if this would work for a bag, but I know on canvas I blend the paint with floetrol which I get from Lowes or Home Depot.